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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Maximising Business Efficiency and Cost: The Impact of Re-flow and Future Tech on Highways

When new clients begin using Re-flow, there comes a moment when the features and benefits – the time-saving, life-hacking potential – come crystal clear.

It’s when you realise that there’s no going back.


You start feeling the positive effect of all the form automations, the triggers, the digital audit trails, the speed of form filling from drop-down menus (and how that improves life for your operatives). Then there’s the in-app enforcement of compliance, and the scheduling shortcuts with their clever notifications saying whether operatives are already booked, whether they have the necessary qualifications, and whether vehicles and equipment are available or not. You feel the elegant webbing out of notifications related to every possible issue, sent to every necessary party.


What’s more, you feel the extra space and time these features give you. And with extra space and time, you imagine ways your business can achieve even more.


We Learn How You Operate and Configure The System to Your Needs


Re-flow’s success has come about from working closely with our clients: listening to your needs during onboarding and during these imagination-triggering moments too. Clients often ask us if we can do ‘this’ or ‘that’ new idea (if we haven’t come up with it together already). Our support team loves a challenge, and some of the best features in the powerful software have grown iteratively in this way.


Inspired by a recent conversation between our CEO Michael Saunders and Highways journalist Dominic Browne, let’s embrace this notion of innovation and look into the big-industry future and see what kinds of digital and technological revelations are on the cusp of, or will one day be included in the Re-flow software.

First, a Feature That’s Already Here: AI-Powered Reporting


AI-powered reporting, a new feature from Re-flow 1.7, fits in well with the ‘future innovation’ theme. It’s our most brazenly futuristic-looking new addition: an easy-to-use software feature that makes reporting your data almost as efficient as in those sci-fi films where they scale up, rotate, and analyse photos in impossible ways.


To cut to the chase, the feature removes any need to connect to outside software like Microsoft’s Power BI. Re-flow now visualises any data point you choose and allows you to present these visualisations to clients or to your own staff in a professional and near-instantaneous manner. If that was all it did, it would be a huge time saver, but the software does more too: the AI analyses your data, and it makes suggestions and provides insights and builds visualisations automatically for you.


Your data looks better and more professional. You save time and money. And you gain unexpected insights into your business’s health – along with a sense that you’re really preparing for the future.


Let’s give an example of an AI workflow:


You or your staff might be working on daily work sheets, some kind of hybrid of a timesheet and work log, and the AI would look at that data and make suggestions for you.


• Would you like to know the Average Work Duration by Operative?


• Would you like to know Fuel Consumption by Vehicle Used?


• And so on


You engage with the AI and explore your data from different angles, gaining profitable insights along the way. The AI selects the data and generates charts, graphs, and other visuals.


The level of analysis is something else, and it’s a solid foundation stone towards making savings and launching growth plans.

A step forward: AI On-The-Fly Analysis


The use of AI mentioned above is here already, but it’s just an inkling of the digital tech tsunami-scale revolution that’s coming.


But whether this revolution submerges us all, buoys us up, or ends up not much more than an errant wave that wets our knees during a paddle, only time will tell.


If hologram concerts of deceased and younger versions of living musicians wasn’t already a sign that the future is here, it’s worth doing a little speculation about what’s coming next for industry.


‘A lot of people are using the word ‘AI’ at the moment,’ our CEO Michael said in the interview. ‘But it’ll become a lot more interesting when AI takes an extra step: when it helps and learns [on a whole new level] – when it provides insights above and beyond what you’re asking it to do.’


Michael speculated on AI being able to provide information on up-to-date regulatory processes and then make sure jobs fulfil all the criteria. In many ways, Re-flow can already achieve this – scheduling teams often rely on spreadsheets full of information about operatives (qualifications, availability, work-hour fatigue), and all this can be automated and baked into the Re-flow forms, with notifications and on-screen hints if certain criteria aren’t met (for example, if one employee has logged too many work hours, or there are no First Aid people on site).


But when AI can take a little of that pressure off, it’ll feel as much of a revelation as the move from legacy paper, email, google doc, and WhatsApp systems to digital field management software like Re-flow in the first place.


Other uses:


• AI will be able to analyse inefficiencies in completed jobs and suggest changes – for example, better materials and processes.


• AI will help eliminate downtime on site, anticipate waiting times, with deliveries for example, and suggest better working practices.


• AI will specify inefficient uses of vehicles and the impact this has on carbon emissions, wear and tear, and general cost-effectiveness. It’ll suggest improvements in routes and timings.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution


In this post we’ve deliberately avoided any mention of technology like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality. But examples of their use already exist in industries close to our own. In construction, AR is being used in architectural planning stages, where it helps designers work with clients in a more visual way, and elsewhere, in remotely connecting technical experts to worksites via AR links. In the long run, there’s no doubt that these kinds of technologies are going to further help cut costs and help businesses run more smoothly. Which is exactly what Re-flow does already.


As we said. There’s no going back. There’s only way is forwards, and up.


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